Monthly Archives: October 2015

Who Are You, And What Did You Do With My Baby?

detective_with_pipe_and_magnifying_glass

I had a baby once. She was little, she couldn’t talk, and we were very excited when she did things like roll over, or wait more than 27 minutes between pooping. However, something very strange has happened. I can’t find this baby anymore, and instead I have a little girl. This little girl has a plethora of likes, dislikes, wants, needs, etc. She also has no issue explaining them at great lengths. I can’t figure out exactly what this little girl did with the baby I had, but the baby is missing.

I looked all over for my baby. I looked for clues under the ever growing pile of painting supplies that a certain little girl is constantly using to express her blossoming love of all things art. I looked under the sketchpads, paintbrushes, and watercolors.

No, there were no signs of a baby there.

Just a pile of beautiful drawings and some odd little creations that could only make sense in the ever expanding mind of a kid.

Then I figured I would check the basket where we kept her baby toys, but those too were gone. Now it was filled with puzzles, games, and other things a baby would never know how to play with. Definitely no clues about the missing baby there.

Next, I decided to look in the room where my baby used to live. I looked in the drawers full of jeans, t-shirts, and dresses. I looked under the Lego workbench where this little girl had built all sorts of towers, airplanes, schools, and whatever else crossed her racing mind.

Still, nothing leading to my baby.

Finally, I looked in the bed to see if my baby was hiding under the covers. All I found were stuffed animals this little girl had named (and given backstories)… this wasn’t even my baby’s crib. This was the bed of a little girl.

As I walked downstairs, I decided to check one more place. I looked in the kitchen, to see if I could find any proof of a baby there. After all, it’s where we kept her diaper bag for so long. We would leave it right by the door, so we never forgot the plethora of things we needed every time we left the house. Maybe something there would point me in the direction of my baby…

When I looked by the door, it started to sink in. My baby was gone forever.

By the door, where we used to keep the diaper bag, I saw another bag. It wasn’t for diapers though… it was for books. Babies don’t need book bags. Little girl’s need book bags so they can go to school and fill their brains with all sorts of amazing things. Any evidence of a baby in this house has been relegated to photos, small reminders, and memories.

This is now a little girl’s house. A wonderful little girl who will keep growing, playing, learning, and amazing me at every turn.

Still, if only I could figure out where this little girl came from…

Dads Need Other Dads: Dealing With Parenting’s Hardest Times

yio4L8BiE

A good friend of mine just had a son. I will obviously not reveal too many details, out of respect to him and his family. All I will say is that his son had some early complications, and had to spend a few weeks in the NICU. He reached out to me because we went through similar things with our daughter, and I am happy that he did (I am even happier that his son will be coming home soon). Talking with him made me think about how badly I dealt with the NICU.

I talk about the time in the NICU in passing a lot, but I haven’t really written about it. Those who only know me from this site would probably be surprised that in person I am really bad about discussing feelings, or any real emotionally charged topic. I use writing as my main form of emotional expression, and a lot of this post is that. So I’m sorry if it doesn’t read very well, but it’s the best I could do with this topic. There is a point at the end though… I promise.

When my daughter was born, I didn’t know anyone who had been through the NICU. Combine that with the previously mentioned inability to talk about anything emotional, and I just buried the entire experience. Anytime I talked about my daughter’s stay in the NICU, or the fact that I could have lost her and my wife due to complications I would tell the story with the emotional impact of reading a grocery list. It probably took me a year before I really opened up about it at all, and even then it was in bits and pieces.

It

wasn’t because I didn’t care. It was because it just hurt too much to even consider the terrible things that could have happened. If we had gone to the hospital even an hour later, we could have had a totally different outcome. If my wife wasn’t so in tune with her body, and wasn’t quickly aware of how wrong things were going, my life would be an empty shell of what it currently is.  My first day in the hospital was doctors and nurses coming in my wife’s room and exclaiming how close we were to disaster. I know they thought they were being encouraging or positive, but those “What if’s?” and “Could have been’s…” kept me awake at night in the months following my daughter’s birth. There are still occasional times that they come back.I will sometimes sit with my daughter, or hold my wife and flashes of my world without them brings me to the brink of tears.

Furthermore, as I discussed in an article earlier this year, I had a sense of guilt about the entire thing. A sense that my story wasn’t important, because my daughter and wife both survived and are healthy. We only were in the NICU for several weeks, not months. The only thing we lost was our ability to have more children, and other couples lost so much more. With that etched in my mind, I didn’t feel like I had the right to burden other people with our story. So if people asked, I would give a brief overview, but never really dive into anything specific. This is appropriate with a lot of people, but I did it with everyone… close friends and family included.

Something tends to happen if you don’t elaborate when people ask you about things. They stop asking. Most people don’t want to make you talk about things you don’t want to talk about, and this is especially true of the people closest to you. I think talking about the NICU made me visibly upset, and nobody really wanted to do that. So people stopped asking, and I stopped talking about it at all. Finally, I went and got some therapy about the experience, and I think that helped a little. However, it took me a really long time to get to that point.

I told this story as a request to other dads, and dads-to-be. I don’t know what exactly would have helped me in those first few months. However, I am pretty sure having other dad’s to talk to with similar experience would have been good for me. Dad’s (and men in general) still have a lot of societal norms that dictate the topics we talk about, and when we talk about them. This is changing, but it is far from really changed.

Talk about the hard parts of being a parent. It might be the NICU, or another one of the million obstacles life can throw at you. As dads we need to be there for each other, and realize that parenting is great… but sometimes it’s really difficult. The idea of being helpless is terrifying, and if your child is sick or needs something you cannot provide, the level of helplessness you feel is excruciating. So don’t do what I did. There is probably another dad out there who has been though something similar, and many of them probably would like to help someone else where they can.

Thank you for reading. If you enjoy DadLunch, please take a moment to like us on Facebook here… DadLunch.